Letter to Alexander Tsiurupa, February 27, 1922

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 27 February 1922



1.[edit source]

First published in 1928 in Lenin Miscellany VIII

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 35, pages 535-542.


The chief defect of these institutions is that they are overburdened with trivial matters. As a result, they are floundering in bureaucracy instead of fighting it.

The causes of this evil are: (1) the weakness of the Managing Department, (2) the inability of the People’s Commissars to climb out of the mire of trivialities arid bureaucratic details, (3) the desire of the People’s Commissars (and still more that of their departmental bureaucrats who egg them on) to shift responsibility on to the CPC, (4) last and most important—the fact that responsible workers do not realise that the order of the day now is to fight the sea of paper and show distrust of it and of the eternal “reorganisations”, that the first task of the moment is not decrees, not reorganisations but selection of people; establishment of individual responsibility for what is being done; checking-up on work actually performed. Otherwise we shall not climb out of the bureaucracy and red tape which are throttling us.

The Narrow Council of People’s Commissars, the CLD and the CPC must go all out to get rid of trivialities, teaching the People’s Commissariats to settle minor matters themselves and to answer for them more strictly.

The staff of the Managing Department of the CPC must regard as its main task the practical realisation of the following: to reduce the number of matters coming before the Narrow CPC, the CLD and the CPC, and to ensure that the People’s Commissars (severally and jointly) should decide more themselves and answer for it; to shift the centre of gravity to checking up on effective fulfilment.

For the same purpose, the Deputy Chairmen of the CPC, Comrades Rykov and Tsyurupa, must go all out to free themselves of trivial matters and commissions, fight against attempts to drag them (the deputies) into matters which should be settled by the People’s Commissars; devote two or three hours a day, as a minimum, to making the personal acquaintance of the responsible workers (not the grandees) of the most important (and later, all) People’s Commissariats, in order to check up and select people; make use of the staff of the Managing Department of the CPC and some of the members of the Narrow Council, and also the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, to check up on the work actually done and what success it has had; in short, they should become practical instructors in administrative work, such as we lack most of all.

Distrust of decrees, of institutions, of “reorganisations” and of grandees, especially among Communists; struggle against the mire of bureaucracy and red tape by checking up on people and on the actual work done; merciless expulsion of unnecessary officials, reduction of staff, replacement of Communists who don’t study the art of management seriously—such must be the line of the People’s Commissars and the CPC, of its Chairman and his Deputy Chairmen.


2.[edit source]

First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. Printed from the original.

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 487b-490a.

A. D. Tsyurupa, C.L.D. Deputy Chairman. S.E.C. Chairman

Copies: Pyatakov (GUT[1] )

Morozov (Glavtorf[2] )

People’s Commissariat for Finance

People’s Commissariat for Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection

I hereby issue a reprimand for failure to perform their official duty and for allowing red tape on the Gidrotorf[3] case.

To Comrade Pyatakov

Comrade Morozov

Comrades Zaks and Gorbunov.

Comrade Pyatakov, acting head of GUT, should not have “requested me to believe” (his paper of 22/II) or “requested me either to satisfy Gidrotorf over and above the estimates, or allow a reduction of its activity”—such a “request” addressed to me is failure to understand the elements of state relations—he should have given thought as to how to fulfil the C.P.C. decision (and not mine) on Gidrotorf of 30.X.1920.[4]

If Pyatakov had not been informed of this decision, it is necessary to arrest the numerous GUT specialists and red tapists, whose duty it was to know, to inquire, and to give Pyatakov a reminder. Not to put such scoundrels under arrest is to encourage red tape, which is stifling us.

The C.P.C. decision of 30.X.1920 makes it clear that, finding himself in a quandary, Pyatakov should not have written an empty paper No. 00770 (of 22.II), but should at once have called (or should have asked the S.E.C. Chairman or A. D. Tsyurupa to call) a conference of the People’s Commissars for the S.E.C. + Finance + Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection for the purpose of at once working out a draft C.L.D. and C.P.C. decision (to take so much from Tsutorf[5] or Glavtorf, so much from GUT for Gidrotorf, to allocate so much over and above the estimates, and to reduce the Gidrotorf programme by so much).

It was Pyatakov’s duty to do this in pursuance of the C.P.C. decision of 30.X.1920, which binds all People’s Commissariats in fact to recognise Gidrotorf as “being of exceptional state importance”, and apply “all privileges” to it....

Comrade Morozov should have urgently requested the convocation of such a conference (and complained about any delay), instead of writing a purely squabbling piece of paper on 22.II (No. 184/&piwhatthe;, in Register: 22/II.1922) in which the author engages in indecent whimpering instead of making business-like proposals.

Comrades Zaks and Gorbunov, if they had had any idea of their duty as members of the Managing Department, instead of being guided by the spirit of exchange of the most empty-pieces of paper, should have found the C.P.C. decision of 30.X.1920, and should have themselves read from it the only correct, the only lawful way: immediate convocation of a People’s Commissars’ conference. The papers in the charge of Zaks and Gorbunov are even outwardly in disorder, because there is no reference to the law, nor a concise summary of the Gidrotorf application, nor any record of the date of this summary, or of my marking. If such negligence is shown once again, I shall dismiss both Zaks and Gorbunov from their posts.

Comrade Tsyurupa, I ask you to have the above-named comrades sign immediately that they are aware of the reprimand issued to them, and to prescribe to the People’s Commissars for the S.E.C., Finance and Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection to convene, at once, if possible on Tuesday, 28/II, but riot later than Wednesday, 1/III, in any case, an early morning conference with the personal participation of the People’s Commissars (who may send in comrades who are quite competent and capable of deciding in their stead, to substitute for them, if they are absolutely unable to attend for a good reason) and of a representative from Gidrotorf, and also, of course, of GUT and Glavtorf.

The task of the conference: to carry out not only the letter, but the meaning of the C.P.C. decision of 30.X.1920, and try to give maximum satisfaction to Gidrotorf (if it is impossible to do so 100 per cent, then make sure anyway that the bulk of its 1922 work should be completed). Gidrotorf should be satisfied partly at the expense of Tsutorf and GUT, and partly over and above the estimates. Be sure to complete the work by the evening of 1.III, and bring it up at the C.L.D. administrative sitting on the evening of 1.III for subsequent approval by the C.L.D. and the Council of People’s Commissars.[6]

Please, strictly instruct the Secretariat and keep a personal check on the speed and correctness of the execution of this order.

Conscious revolutionaries should, apart from their official duties, give thought to the economic reasons which had made the C.P.C. recognise Gidrotorf as “being of exceptional state importance”.

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)

Chairman, C.P.C.

3.[edit source]

First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. Printed from the original.

Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 487b-490a.

Comrade Tsyurupa:

I am sending you a specimen of our vile red tape and obtuseness!

Just think—these are our best men, Pyatakov, Morozov and others!

If it weren’t for the knout, they would have ruined the whole cause.

It is my earnest request that you do everything you can right away, hit those who are guilty once again more painfully and get the thing done at once (through Gorbunov and Lepeshinskaya, whom I told to prepare the 30.X.1920 decree, etc., for you). Let Gidrotorf have 90 per cent if not 100 per cent.



  1. S.E.C. Central Fuel Administration.—Ed.
  2. S.E.C. Central Peat Administration.—Ed.
  3. Administration for Hydraulic Peat Extraction.—Ed.
  4. A reference to the C.P.C. decision of October 30, 1920, “On the Use of the Hydraulic Extraction of Peat”.
  5. Central Board for the Peat Industry of the S.E.C. Central Fuel Administration.—Ed.
  6. The conference which was held on February 28, 1922, with A. D. Tsyurupa in the chair, decided to let the Administration for Hydraulic Peat Extraction have 1.2 million gold rubles from the C.P.C. reserve fund. This decision was incorporated in the C.P.C. decision taken the same day. See this volume, Document 624.